The Weight of the
Writing World:
Balancing Composition on the Scales of Justice

Tabitha Martin
The University of Akron
Founded in 1921
2008:
•Expansion of the LARW program
•Changes in what/how legal writing
is taught (⇏ “legalese”)
•Law Writ...
Well-defined
guidelines for
students at the
Akron Law
Writing Center
Workshops
What we have in Common
Law practitioners
ARE writers
Compositionists are
writers & experts in
the teaching of
writing
Shar...
But there
are
difficulties
Law School Pedagogy
Socratic method
Teacher-focused
Honor Code/no
collaboration
Focused on “form” &
conventions
Composition Pedagogy
Teacher as writing coach/
editor
Student-focused
Individual conferences,
small-group
workshopping
Foc...
Teaching
Teaching
writing
writing
LARW

Teaching
Teaching
law
law

Teaching
Teaching
analysis
analysis
English Dept. Concerns
That our knowledge & expertise
wouldn’t be valued
That form-based concerns (grammar,
etc.) would ov...
It Can Be Done!

Law

Comp
We must own our expertise
Often we feel protective of what we
have “scraped up” into a discipline
Can’t be afraid to share...
What We’ve Learned
Building bridges out to the
larger world is a balancing act
Our knowledge is distinct but
applicable in...
Thank You
Weight of the Writing World: Balancing Composition on the Scales of Justice
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Weight of the Writing World: Balancing Composition on the Scales of Justice

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Presented at the North Carolina Symposium on Teaching Writing: Writing Outside the Classroom
February 15-16, 2013

This presentation tells the story of a cooperative effort between the English department and the Law School in creating a writing center: how the Center came to be, how and why it is staffed with graduate students from the English Department, and the practices that equalize the strengths of these two programs across the campus. Specifically, I will explore how our Center balances the best intentions of “writing in the disciplines” with the avoidance of potential danger zones that can come with collaboration.

It is my contention that while compositionists should continue to build bridges beyond the English Department, we must ensure that these relationships value the specialized knowledge we bring to the table, and that the power structures inherent in the system are balanced across the gap.

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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Weight of the Writing World: Balancing Composition on the Scales of Justice

  1. 1. The Weight of the Writing World: Balancing Composition on the Scales of Justice Tabitha Martin The University of Akron
  2. 2. Founded in 1921 2008: •Expansion of the LARW program •Changes in what/how legal writing is taught (⇏ “legalese”) •Law Writing Center: Staffed with English GAs Funded by the Law School
  3. 3. Well-defined guidelines for students at the Akron Law Writing Center
  4. 4. Workshops
  5. 5. What we have in Common Law practitioners ARE writers Compositionists are writers & experts in the teaching of writing Share many ideas about the links between writing & thinking
  6. 6. But there are difficulties
  7. 7. Law School Pedagogy Socratic method Teacher-focused Honor Code/no collaboration Focused on “form” & conventions
  8. 8. Composition Pedagogy Teacher as writing coach/ editor Student-focused Individual conferences, small-group workshopping Focused on content & process
  9. 9. Teaching Teaching writing writing LARW Teaching Teaching law law Teaching Teaching analysis analysis
  10. 10. English Dept. Concerns That our knowledge & expertise wouldn’t be valued That form-based concerns (grammar, etc.) would overwhelm the attention to composing Power and $$ issues
  11. 11. It Can Be Done! Law Comp
  12. 12. We must own our expertise Often we feel protective of what we have “scraped up” into a discipline Can’t be afraid to share it Be confident in our knowledge to “loan” what works to other disciplines and let it be adapted as needed
  13. 13. What We’ve Learned Building bridges out to the larger world is a balancing act Our knowledge is distinct but applicable in other fields As long as we don’t it let it be subsumed in other disciplines
  14. 14. Thank You

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